Since the death of George Floyd, America has been awash in violent protests and the sudden rise of radical, far-Left political ideology. In the span of a few months, America’s cities have been overcome with looting, property destruction, and violent crime. In the meantime, mayors and other city officials do little but cast blame and engage in ad hominem attacks against their political opponents.
As if this is not enough to undermine the founding principles of the United States, radical Marxist groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter are gaining prominence and pushing socialist dogma that would have been antithetical to mainstream America just a few years ago.
Put simply, the future of American freedom and prosperity is teetering on the precipice.
One way to cut to the chase of what is happening is to consider the fact that America is in a battle between “makers” and “takers.” This is not a new idea. It has been discussed in-depth for decades.
Many times, in our nation’s past, political leaders and social commentators have warned of the fact that more and more Americans are becoming net-takers, meaning they get more from government than they put in. For instance, when President Roosevelt’s New Deal policies were being imposed, many on the Right were apoplectic that this was the beginning of socialism in America.
Looking back, they were correct. Although, who could have thought that in less than 100 years since FDR’s New Deal, the United States would be embracing the failed policies of socialist countries instead of preserving our hard-won freedoms.
Moreover, who could have imagined that the United States would be on the brink of disavowing the capitalist system that has lifted billions from abject poverty for a disastrous system based on class envy? Other than Karl Marx, at least.
Arguably, the gauntlet was laid when Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) of all people, while running for president in 2012, uttered these now-infamous words, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president [Barack Obama] no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.”
Romney was right. Yet, eight years later, his message resonates more than ever.
This week, the Democratic Party held their national convention, in which the party formally nominated Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) for the 2020 ticket. This is significant because the Democratic Party also revealed its true colors during this four-day political extravaganza.
In short, the Democratic Party is all-in on socialism. From the party platform to the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations, the Democrats are unequivocally the party of “free stuff,” aka socialism.
At the same time, the party has also embraced cancel culture and downplayed the idea of America as the land of opportunity. In their telling, America is hopelessly oppressive, racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic. And they claim America is an oligopoly based on privilege, meaning it is almost impossible for the vast majority to work hard and attain the American dream.
In some ways, this is the consequence of the “everybody gets a trophy” mindset that is so pervasive in our modern culture, especially in academia. More accurately, the Left’s mantra could be summarized by this quip: “You are not successful because America is rigged against you. Therefore, vote for us and we will take stuff from successful people and give it to you.”
This is a dangerous philosophy. It also brings to mind a quote by 19th century Scottish economist Alexander Fraser Tytler:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.”
If Tytler’s theory is prescient, one can argue that America is dangling between apathy and dependence. However, Tytler’s theory is far from iron-clad. In other words, although the natural course for government is to expand and dependence on government to increase over time, it is not by any means guaranteed to take place.
The United States, as a functioning democracy, has already exceeded Tytler’s 200-year lifespan. This is not to say that the United States is incapable of succumbing to the final stages of Tytler’s scenario. However, it does mean that Tytler’s scenario is not guaranteed. In short, it is a choice that Americans will make, one way or the other.
So, as the 21st century dawns, America has a monumental choice to make, one that exceeds the upcoming election. Will we the people buck the trend that democracies are doomed or will we the people demonstrate that America has been, and always will be, the most exceptional nation in history. Will America remain the land of opportunity and the home of the brave, or will we the people throw it all away and become a nation of takers who fall for hollow promises of “free stuff” that we all know is unsustainable and unfair to the makers?
Chris Talgo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.